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ginning of the whole worke seemeth abrupte and as depending upon other antecedents, it needs that ye know the occasion of these three Knights severall Adventures. For the methode of a poet historical is not such, as of an historiographer. For an historiographer discourseth of affayres orderly as they were donne, accounting as well the times as the actions; but a poet thrusteth into the middest, even where it most concerneth him, and there recoursing to the thinges forepaste, and divining of thinges to come, maketh a pleasing analysis of all.

The beginning therefore of my History, if it were to be told by an historiographer, should be the twelfth Booke, which is the last; where I devise that the Faery Queene kept her annual feaste xii. days; uppon which xii. severall dayes, the occasions of the xii. severall Adventures hapned, which, being undertaken by xii. severall Knights, are in these xii. Bookes severally handled and discoursed. The first was this. In the beginning of the feast, there presented himselfe a tall clownishe younge man, who falling before the Queene of Faeries desired a boone (as the manner then was) which during that feast she might not refuse; which was that hee might have the atchievement of any Adventure, which during that feaste should happen. That being graunted, he rested him on the floore, unfitte through his rusticity for a better place. Soone after entred a faire Ladye in mourning weedes, riding on a white asse, with a Dwarfe behind her leading a warlike steed, that bore the arms of a Knight, and his speare in the Dwarfes hand. Shee, falling before the Queene of Faeries, complaynd that her father and mother, an ancient King and Queene, had bene by an huge Dragon many years shut up in a brasen Castle, who thence suffred them not to yssew and therefore besought the Faerie Queene to assygne her some one

of her Knights to take on him that exployt. Presently that clownish person, upstarting, desired that Adventure: whereat the Queene much wondering, and the Lady much gainesaying, yet he earnestly importuned his desire. In the end the Lady told him, that unlesse that armour which she brought, would serve him (that is, the armour of a Christian man specified by St. Paul, vi. Ephes.) that he could not succeed in that enterprise: which being forthwith put upon him with dew furnitures thereunto, he seemed the goodliest man in al that company, and was well liked of the Lady. And eftesoones1 taking on him knighthood, and mounting on that straunge courser, he went forth with her on that Adventure: where beginneth the first Booke, viz.

A gentle Knight was pricking on the playne, &c.

The second day there came in a Palmer bearing an Infant with bloody hands, whose parents he complained to have bene slayn by an Enchantresse called Acrasia: and therefore craved of the Faery Queene, to appoint him some Knight to performe that Adventure; which being assigned to Sir Guyon, he presently went forth with that same Palmer: which is the beginning of the second Booke, and the whole subiect thereof. The third day there came in a Groome, who complained before the Faery Queene, that a vile Enchaunter, called Busirane, had in hand a most faire Lady, called Amoretta, whom he kept in most grievous torment, because she would not yield him the pleasure of her body. Whereupon Sir Scudamour, the lover of that Lady, presently tooke on him that Adventure. But being unable to performe it by reason of the hard enchauntments, after long sorrow, in the end met with Britomartis, who succoured him, and reskewed his Love.

1 Eftesoones, immediately.

But, by occasion hereof, many other Adventures are intermedled; but rather as accidents then intendments: as the Love of Britomart, the Overthrow of Marinell, the Misery of Florimell, the Vertuousnes of Belphoebe, the Lasciviousnes of Hellenora; and many the like.

Thus much, Sir, I have briefly overronne to direct your understanding to the wel-head of the History; that, from thence gathering the whole intention of the conceit, ye may as in a handful gripe al the discourse, which otherwise may happily seem tedious and confused. So, humbly craving the continuance of your honourable favour towards me, and th' eternall establishment of your happines, I humbly take leave.

23. Ianuary 1589.

Yours most humbly affectionate,

Ed. Spenser.



[The first of these commendatory poems is by Sir Walter Raleigh, and is in a fine strain of exaggerated compliment. The second is by the same author, and is a specimen of the adulation addressed to Queen Elizabeth by her courtiers. The third is by Spenser's friend, Gabriel Harvey. The names of the authors of the remaining four have baffled the researches of modern commentators.]

A Vision upon this Conceipt of the Faery Queene

ME thought I saw the grave where Laura lay,*
Within that Temple where the vestall flame
Was wont to burne; and passing by that way
To see that buried dust of living fame,
Whose tomb faire Love, and fairer Virtue kept;
All suddeinly I saw the Faery Queene:

At whose approch the soule of Petrarke wept,
And from thenceforth those Graces were not seene;
(For they this Queene attended ;) in whose steed
Oblivion laid him down on Lauras herse:
Hereat the hardest stones were seene to bleed,
And grones of buried ghostes the hevens did perse :
Where Homers spright did tremble all for griefe,
And curst th' accesse of that celestiall Theife.

W. R.

* "Methought I saw my late espoused saint."

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Another of the same.

THE prayse of meaner wits this Worke like profit brings,
As doth the Cuckoes song delight when Philumena sings.
If thou hast formed right true Vertues face herein,

Vertue herselfe can best discerne to whom they written bin.
If thou hast Beauty praysd, let Her sole lookes divine
Judge if ought therein be amis, and mend it by Her eine.
If Chastitie want ought, or Temperaunce her dew,
Behold Her Princely mind aright, and write thy Queene anew.
Meane while She shall perceive, how far Her vertues sore
Above the reach of all that live, or such as wrote of yore:
And thereby will excuse and favour thy good will;
Whose vertue can not be exprest but by an Angels quill.
Of me no lines are lov'd, nor letters are of price,
(Of all which speak our English tongue,) but those of thy

W. R.

To the learned Shepheard.

*COLLYN, I see, by thy new taken taske,
Some sacred fury hath enricht thy braynes,
That leades thy Muse in haughty verse to maske,
And loath the layes that longs to lowly swaynes;
That liftes thy notes from Shepheardes unto Kinges:
So like the lively Larke that mounting singes.

Thy lovely Rosalinde seemes now forlorne;

And all thy gentle flockes forgotten quight:
Thy chaunged hart now holdes thy pypes in scorne,
Those prety pypes that did thy mates delight;

*In these verses allusion is made to "The Shepheards Calender " -Spenser's first published work, in which he speaks of himself as Colin Clout.

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